Mariela Castro Points to Progress on LGBT Rights in Cuba
At the Equality Forum in Philadelphia, she emphasized the work she and
others are doing to improve conditions for LGBT people in the nation.
BY Trudy Ring
May 05 2013 12:40 PM ET
Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro and niece of
former president Fidel Castro, said Saturday that she's proud of the
advances she and her allies have made on LGBT rights in Cuba.
Castro spoke on a panel at the Equality Forum in Philadelphia, where she
also received an award Saturday night for her activism. "We can make the
best together," she told attendees at the panel, The Philadelphia
"Castro said that she was 'very proud' of the work she and others had
done to promote LGBT equality and that she would push for gay marriage,"
the Inquirer notes. "Castro, a sexologist and director of the Cuban
National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), has long been an activist
for LGBT equality in Cuba. She has been credited with improving
conditions for gay Cubans, who faced imprisonment as recently as the 1970s."
She also defended her country's record on human rights, saying, "There
is not any government or any country who has the right to impose or make
decisions to the other ones regarding the human-rights area."
Castro was initially denied a visa clearance to attend the Philadelphia
event, but the State Department then reversed its decision and allowed
her to do so. There has been some criticism of her appearance there,
including by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, one of the most
pro-LGBT Republicans in Congress, who fled Cuba as a child with her
family after Fidel Castro came to power.
"For a person like Mariela Castro to attend a conference on civil rights
for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, and to receive an
award, is shameful, pathetic and a ruse," Ros-Lehtinen said in a
statement posted on her website Thursday. "The words equality and human
rights don't exist in the vocabulary of the Castro tyranny."
Former congressman Barney Frank, who spoke at the Equality Forum dinner
Saturday night, praised Mariela Castro for her work but had harsh words
for her father and uncle, saying they were "among the great betrayers of
liberalism and human rights," according to the Inquirer.
"I'm glad that they're lessening the repression of gay and lesbian
people, but no, I certainly don't think that people should say, 'OK,
well, that's all you have to do,'" Frank said.